The people who come to the Care and Share Food Bank are “our neighbors.”
“And who are our neighbors?” asked Care and Share’s President/CEO Lynne Telford at the annual Recipe for Hope fundraising luncheon March 7 at The Broadmoor.
They’re families who have hit a rough spot; they’re children, the elderly, the homeless, people in emergency situations and, most common, she said, single working mothers. They’re our neighbors, and they should never go hungry, she said.
During the unexpected government shutdown, Care and Share held an emergency distribution and provided more than 500 families with more than 72,000 pounds of food. Many, said Telford, had never needed that type of help. She shared a letter thanking them for making a family feel so welcomed “during one of the most humiliating experiences” in their lives.
“Care and Share belongs to our community, and you are our community,” she told the record-breaking crowd of 1,200 at the luncheon, which had been donated by sponsors. They responded in a huge way by donating an astonishing $409,000, which equates to 3.2 million meals.
The Care and Share vision is “a hunger-free Southern Colorado,” Telford said, and this can go a long way to help fight food insecurity. Telford has just been appointed by Gov. Jared Polis to the state Board of Human Services.
The most adorable “neighbor” who told his family’s story was second-grader Xander Wilcoxson, 7, wearing a snappy bow tie with his vest. Food is love, Xander said, and “I love that my parents love me.”
Help from the school’s food pantry at Rudy Elementary School became a necessity as Xander’s father tried to set up his own catering business.
On Thursdays, Xander goes to the pantry for a weekend bag of food to take home. “I love when we get green beans,” he said with a big smile.
His brother and sister are more enthusiastic about the bags of oatmeal. He’s good at fixing the oatmeal, Xander said proudly, and told the grownups in the audience he would be glad to teach them how to fix it, too.
Barb Winter, recently retired from Ent Credit Union, followed Xander to the stage and called him “my hero.” “A second-grader standing in front of an assemblage this size...” she said, shaking her head. “Xander is just one of the many in our community who need help.”
Shawn Gullixson from Vectra Bank, much honored recently as a young community leader and elected school board member, shared a personal story. “I did not grow up with much,” he said. “For many of you who know me, that isn’t something I bring up or talk about often.” But there’s no shame, he said.
His single mother raised three boys under age 3 by the time she was 21. She worked hard, but it often required that they move. “I can count at least a dozen schools over five states.” His mother wasn’t one to accept help easily, he said. “She did her best.”
When they were forced to go to a food bank, it was like Christmas, he remembers. Each item was pulled out of the box one at a time. Milk was rationed, sometimes leading to Cheerios in water instead of milk by the last bowl from the box.
It all made Gullixson, husband and father of two, who he is. His family appreciated those total strangers who gave to the food banks. Gullixson said. “It was a lesson that built a foundation of giving back and serving my community that I do my best to live out today.”
Photo gallery: gazette.com/life/around-town